Club cycling team finds stride in most competitive conference

Bethany Blass, Sports Co-Editor

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The Bison club cycling team has embarked on their 2016 journey in spring racing. Club cycling was started at the University in the early 1990s and continues today, constantly growing and improving. The club team has participated in the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC) for about 10 years now, which is widely regarded as the most competitive conference of the 11 USA Cycling (USAC) Collegiate programs.

I have been racing my bike since my sophomore year of high school. When I was looking at colleges, having a cycling program was something I looked for,” Club Cycling President Alex Breakstone ’17 said. “At the time, the team was pretty well-established, so I felt it was a good fit.”

The cycling club team is open to any full-time student of the University and represents cyclers of a range of ability levels, from newcomers to those who are competition-ready, allowing racers to choose from categories A, B, C, D, and Intro. As athletes improve and continue to have success in racing, they move up to the next category.

Bison cyclers travel to race against 70 universities as far south as Delaware, and as far north as Canada, Vermont, and Maine. The conference features terrains including track, mountain, cyclocross, and road disciplines, but the Orange and Blue focus on the road season from March through the beginning of May. Athletes spend their cycling season vying for a spot at the annual USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships. The team sent cyclers to the USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships in 2014 and 2015, among several other seasons in the past.

For the cyclers, the fall and spring seasons are distinctly different. The fall semester focuses on introducing new riders to cycling and the terrain around campus, whereas the spring semester details the sport’s practices of training and focuses on competitive racing. The road season starts over spring break and ends just before the week of final exams. Throughout racing season, the cyclers travel to compete at six race weekends. National Championships are qualification-dependent and take place around the spring semester final exam week.

Despite non-varsity status, the team races competitively and intensely and works hard to improve. Cyclers dedicate several hours a week to rides around campus as well as the local area. The team also utilizes University resources such as Gerhard Fieldhouse and the Kenneth Langone Athletics & Recreation Center (KLARC) to work on strength training, and uses indoor trainer resistance units to ride standard bikes indoors.

For students interested in cycling, Breakstone advises that the best thing to do is to just go for it. The team caters to riders of all experience levels, has bikes on reserve specifically for riders without their own equipment, and welcomes everyone.

As Breakstone reflected on his experience with the club cycling team, he recalled the small, six-member team increasing to an impressive count of 16 this year.

“The best part of the team is a tie between the satisfaction of competitive success, as well as the good feeling when I am able to introduce new athletes to the sport and see them develop into competent cyclists,” Breakstone said. 

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